If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. — 1 Corinthians 10:12
Have you built any pedestals lately? In the last couple of decades, newspapers and newscasts have been filled with reports of sin in high places. Television evangelists have fallen with embarrassing regularity. Today's righteous finger pointer often turns into tomorrow's suspect of impropriety. Only the exposures of political leaders vie with the revelations of religious scandals for front-page coverage.
I'm not sure how the average American views these scandals. Certainly the news media seem to delight in their revelations. And comedians have grist for hundreds of new routines. But as a person who also claims to be a born again Christian and a follower of the same Jesus about whom these men have preached, I am dismayed and angered. When these high profile Christians are impugned, I feel as if the barbs are being hurled at me. Their proven or alleged wrongdoings seem to indict all of us. Maybe you can identify with those feelings.
If we the evangelical Christian community are honest, however, we would have to admit that we are part of the problem. You see, by putting these men on pedestals, we have made them larger than life and we have made them susceptible to the temptations of power and pride.
In reality, they are fallible and sinful human beings, just like you and me. Think of how you would fare if your inconsistencies and secrets were exposed--those angry words, gossip, lust for things, murdeous thoughts. But we elevate those with special gifts. We treat celebrity converts with almost worship status.
Years ago, as a college freshman and aspiring athlete, I went to college football camp. It was a Christian institution, staffed with excellent role models. I admired these upper classmen "superstars" as athletes and as great examples of the Christian life. But during one of our team meetings, a massive All-American tackle said something that I have never forgotten. "Don't put your faith in us or in any human being. If you watch us long enough or close enough, we'll let you down," he said. "Instead, keep your eyes on Christ. He will never fail."
Who are your Christian "superstars?" A pastor, a musician, a parent, a close friend? By "overrating" you hurt them and yourself. Instead, let us put our Christian leaders in their proper place as fellow strugglers who are striving to be Christ-like and who are using their gifts to serve him. And let's uphold in prayer our Christian leaders and those in the spotlight.
“I said to myself, ‘Relax, because the LORD takes care of you.’” (Psalm 116:7 NCV)
God has given you the gift of your body, and it comes with an owner’s manual — the Bible. In it are all the instructions you need to take care of yourself and live a long life.
You already know the basics: proper nutrition, exercise, a good night’s rest. Today I want to look at the first of four health factors you may not have thought of for living long and well.
A contemporary “weigh in” on an ancient value.
First, knowing so many ministry-types serve Jesus' goals, I don't want to seem unduly critical of any in addressing a concern. If you're a dedicated servant-leader, I'm on your side! But I want to bluntly talk about the lessened "weight" being given today to Jesus' strategy for advancing His church. He said, "Go—make disciples!"—and this foundational call is increasingly being "dissed."
"Dissing"—the pop word for disrespect—is becoming normalized regarding discipleship. I don't think it's calculated, but it's occurring as "doing church" supplants "becoming the church." A dimming focus on plain, New Testament discipling is bringing us to the brink of evolving dumbed-down saints, a deceivable elect and a crippled Body emptied of ministry strength and unready to face persecution.
Without discipleship, we are at risk of garnering believers in Jesus while not growing stable, committed, empowered agents of Christ. Jesus spoke of people who "for joy" lay claim to faith, but who do not endure. They wither when trials or pressure comes (see Mark 4:5, 17)—and Christians are facing an increase of both in our world.
“We are each responsible for our own conduct.” Galatians 6:5 (NLT)
Your choices are far more powerful than your circumstances. You may not like how complicated your life has become. But with few exceptions, no one is forcing you to keep your life complicated.
You have the power to simplify your life. In fact, God expects us to assume responsibility for our lives and to carefully choose how we spend our time.
Many believers in the United States think the Holy Spirit's power is an option. Christians in Africa - where miracles are frequent - don't have that attitude.
AFRICA SHALL BE SAVED.” I heard God's message so clearly. In response my family moved from Lesotho to South Africa in 1974. But how was Africa going to be saved? Clueless, I sat with my head in my hands. As unknowns, we moved out into the unknown, with no prospects mapped out for us, hoping for further instruction from the Lord.
And sure enough, God spoke again. I was to rent the National Stadium in Gaborone, Botswana, for a gospel crusade. The only group willing to work with us was a church of 40 members.
I walked through the little city, not knowing how to put the loose ends together, and made a provisional booking for the stadium by faith. It was the right move.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. — Matthew 6:33
In a column, reporter Bob Greene once opined on "How to Become a Hero." He described a Texas gem dealer who went to a mineral show in Arizona. There he met a man who wandered creek beds, looking for interesting stones. This man was displaying some of his finds in plastic containers.
Among the smaller stones the dealer saw a large rock, and that's all the displayer thought it was--a big rock. But this gem dealer knew otherwise. He recognized it as the biggest star sapphire he had ever seen.
Knowing that the owner had no idea of the true worth of the stone, the gem dealer bargained with him and paid $10 for the rock. Later he reported that it was worth $2.5 million.
And, noted Greene, this gem dealer has become a sort of folk hero because he found something of value and purchased it at the lowest possible price, without hinting to the original owner what was going on. Greene went on to say, "This is just a particularly dramatic example of the way so many people are getting rich these days. They don't do anything of importance or value; they just manipulate and sidestep and feint and parry. They make people think they are going to do one thing, and then they do another. The lesson seems to be that only suckers believe in putting in a day's work for a day's pay. The smart boys are the tricksters."
Unfortunately, Bob Greene is right. People's lives today seem consumed with lotteries, long shots, and insider trading . . . and a continuing saga of greed, bribery, extortion, and embezzlement.
As Christians, however, we shouldn't be too surprised. Jesus said that his values are the opposite of the world's and that people who follow him will be misunderstood. True followers of Christ won't fit into society.
The Bible says that who we are on the inside is infinitely more important than our outward appearance, the way we achieve our goals is as important as the goals themselves, and that seeking Christ and his kingdom is more important than being the richest person on earth.
Greene concludes his column with these thoughts: "Let's imagine that the gem dealer sees the star sapphire and instead of purchasing it for $10, he tells the man of its real worth and urges him to get some advice about what a fair asking price is before selling it. I know, I know; that's not the way the world works. Maybe, though, he could have at least cut the poor rock-hunter in on his profits. But then he wouldn't have been a hero for these days, would he?"
"And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?" (Matt 16:26).
Don't worry about making it in today's world. Focus your attention on being a "hero" where it counts . . . in God's eyes.